Why It’s Time for a Digital Detox

Over the last several weeks I’ve been reflecting on something that has been bothering me for some time now, but that has recently become more noticeable in my life. That “something” is the amount of time I spend consuming digital media. Since getting my first iPhone in 2012, the amount of time I spend on my phone has slowly increased to where I feel that my media consumption and phone usage has become a borderline addiction.

This problem is nothing life threatening. It might not even be outside of the normal media consumption of adults of my age. However, this I know for a fact: My media consumption (which is almost exclusively done on my iPhone) has resulted in a level of dependence, lessened self discipline, and media ADD that has had tangible negative effects on my life. Examples of these negative effects include:

  • Being disrespectful to my wife because I am on my phone while she is trying to have a conversation with me.
  • Excessive Twitter use at work.
  • Opening emails or Facebook first thing in the morning - which leads to an unproductive and reactive start to my day, as opposed to a proactive start.
  • Listening to basketball podcasts at the store instead of asking the cashier how their day has been.
  • Having so many Chrome tabs open that my browser crashes.
  • The inability to read a book for more than 20 minutes without checking my phone.
  • Reading Medium articles at night while in bed instead of sleeping.

The list could go on and on. Don’t get the wrong impression, by no means am I anti-technology or anti-media. I love both technology and media, but because I have not set up proper restrictions or rules it has gotten to the point where I feel my phone rules my life, instead of me ruling my phone. With all that said, let’s get to the digital detox I plan on following for the next few weeks, and the motivations behind this plan.

Rules

  1. No Facebook
  2. Twitter 1x a day for 10 minutes
  3. No news websites
  4. Only 2 Medium articles a day
  5. No sports podcasts

Motivations

A big motivation in regaining control of my time spent online is that I have watched my ability to focus significantly diminish over the past five years. My self control has gotten to the point where it is often too weak to resist an endless Twitter stream, where a new article to read is a mere refresh or search away. The irony in all this is that I’ve convinced myself I use my iPhone to accomplish lots of productive reading. While the reality is most of my time consists of skimming through articles then quickly returning to look for the next article to “read”.

The second motivation I have in going through this digital detox is to fill my life with more worthwhile activities. One of my favorite discourses is by religious leader Dallin H. Oakes, titled “Good, Better, Best”. In this article he expounds on the importance of forgoing some of the Good things in life, in order to choose Better and Best options. There are so many Good things to be found online, but I often find myself giving up Better and Best options because I’m glued to my phone. I plan on changing this by having more adventures in the outdoors, spending more quality time with my wife and our new puppy and also consuming media and literature that are of higher value. It’s time to start spending more of my time on Better and Best, instead of drowning in Good or even Worthless.

Two of the Best things in my life right here.

Lastly, I want to start creating instead of just consuming. Knowledge is great, but knowledge applied to action is where true power is found. If knowledge was all we needed, then more overweight people would magically become skinny, all college graduates would have great jobs, and I would have launched at least 25 different companies by now. I often convince myself that by reading tons of online articles I’m learning how to do lots of cool things. The reality is that the best way to learn is by doing. A creative project that I am currently working on is learning HTML, CSS and JavaScript using General Assembly’s Dash platform. Dash is an interactive learning experience where you learn to code, and I plan on using that knowledge to design and launch my own personal website. If you are interested in learning more about the importance of creating instead of consuming, I highly recommend the post “Why Excessive Consumption Limits Your Creativity” by Srinivas Rao.

Conclusion

By no means do I think this digital detox is something that everyone needs to do, nor am I casting judgement on people who do spend a significant amount of time online. In time I plan on spending more time online, but in a more purposeful and proactive way. I am starting this detox today (July 27th) and will end it on August 14th. I plan on writing a halfway post on August 7th as well as a final report to summarize progress made and lessons learned. If you have any thoughts, experiences, or tips on this topic I would love to hear about it in the comments below!

If you liked this, click the 💚 below so other people will see this here on Medium.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.